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Originally published April 26, 2011 at 7:06 PM | Page modified April 26, 2011 at 10:40 PM

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Judge dismisses assault case, criticizes Seattle police investigation

A King County judge has thrown out a criminal case involving the alleged assault of a Seattle police detective after finding the investigation was the most "poorly investigated" she's seen in her 22 years on the bench.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A King County judge has thrown out a criminal case involving the alleged assault of a Seattle police gang detective after finding the investigation was the most "poorly investigated" she's seen in her 22 years on the bench.

Superior Court Judge Joan DuBuque dismissed the case on April 20, just days before the case was scheduled to go to trial.

The detective who was allegedly assaulted was Shandy Cobane, who sparked a public outcry a year ago when he used ethnically inflammatory language while detaining a Latino man. Cobane has been on reassignment since the April 17, 2010, incident when he was captured on videotape telling the man he was going to "beat the [expletive] Mexican piss out of you, homey. You feel me?"

A week after that incident, Cobane responded to a Belltown bar fight that led to the charge of third-degree assault against David Rengo.

The charges alleged that Rengo, 25, pushed Cobane during the early morning of April 24, 2010. Rengo allegedly knocked Cobane into a parked car when Cobane and another officer tried to stop him and another man from fighting with a third man in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood.

The other man who was with Rengo punched Cobane in the head. That man, identified as Chad M. Jordan, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault, prosecutors said.

Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor's Office, said the assault charge against Rengo was dismissed with prejudice and will not be refiled. The judge found "that the investigation [by police] was deficient," Donohoe said.

DuBuque criticized Seattle police for a lack of officer and witness statements on the incident and for failing to follow a department protocol requiring all patrol cars to activate their dashboard cameras when they stopped to investigate the alleged assault, Donohoe said. She also criticized Seattle gang detectives for investigating the case when a member of the gang unit was the alleged victim.

Seattle police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb declined to talk about the dismissal. He did confirm the department has a policy requiring all patrol cars stopped at a crime scene to activate their dashboard cameras.

The incident involving Cobane and the Latino man is one of several that prompted the U.S. Justice Department to open an investigation into whether Seattle police have engaged in a pattern of unnecessary force and biased policing. Police have yet to announce whether Cobane will be disciplined for the incident.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

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